The wait is finally over, BLUE is here.
For those of you who don’t know BLUE is the debut LP of Disturbing London’s A2. It’s also an acronym for Before Love Undoes Everything. This project has been in the making since roughly 2013/14. On a personal level I have been highly anticipating the project. So much so that even when writing about his project before BLUE, RED, I spent a large portion discussing BLUE.
Now just to set the tone – this is not a review. I don’t believe in doing reviews as soon as projects are out, it takes time to fully digest and appreciate an album/project. So rather than a rushed review, which I’d probably change my mind on in the days following its release here’s a breakdown my first impressions.
You knew me when I weren’t the realist yet, sh**s authentic now you think I’ve changed
Let’s start on a real positive – the standout track. I chose to exclude both Gold and X2(DBLE) from my choice just in the basis that both songs have been out for quite a while now and although both are quality, a new banger always grabs your attention more. Although these both get little extras there’s nothing too dramatic, some electric guitar riffs are added to Gold and X2(DBLE) gets an outro added.
Probably do this once because lightning don’t strike twice, The sooner you drop your front the sooner I’ll drop mine
Now usually when listening to a project there is a clear standout track. However, with BLUE it’s not that simple. There are too many quality tracks to immediately say what the standout one is. I mean even Marble Flaws, track one, immediately draws you in as a listener. So rather than a single track I’m going to name a few that are all contenders for the best at the moment. In order of appearance on the project: Mirrors, The Feel, Southern Comfort, Once Bitten, From London With Love.
The first thing we have to do is give a hand to the producers on this one. A2, Clonez and WondaGurl really outdid themselves on this one. If you were wondering if this is the same WondaGurl who’s produced for the likes of Drake, Kanye,and Rihanna – it is. The reason to thank them is for carrying out a delicate balancing act with creating a cohesive sound without being repetitive. They also have to tackle the fact that they might have something on their hands that was too different, but they made it all work.
Caress my ego, stroke my imperfections
Beyond just the production the order selection was also excellent. This isn’t something where the project has a few singles this whole project could have been lead singles. Yet somehow all these powerful tracks have an amazing cohesion. The flow sonically from one to the next is incredible. Even when the next track doesn’t have the same feel as the track before there is a cohesion that keeps them working together, seemingly towards a peak. This creates a unique pacing to the project. It starts on 100 stays there for a couple tracks, then slows things down. Then it’s back to 100 again, it’s a project that keeps you on your toes as a listener.
The most interesting features of this project before release are the features. For a man who so rarely has other artists feature in tracks the fact he does on his album says a lot. It is clear these features were not on a whim either. How do we know this well first because he has his biggest collaboration to date by linking up with 6LACK. The second feature we get is on From London With Love, which has the support of his longtime friend and past collaborator Thea Gajic.
I can tell from their faces that they didn’t expect me to, Kill ’em all, Kill ’em all, Kill ’em all
Now that the project is out, I can confirm those features were tailored extremely well to the respective tracks. Seeing A2 and 6LACK trade over an instrumental is something I didn’t know we needed but we did. Hopefully the two can collaborate again, maybe even more frequently too because the partnership really works. Thea is a star. Although she no longer focuses on her spoken word, her pen game has not weakened at all. Her feature rounds off From Love With London and it really completes the song. It’s a great track and the addition of Thea was perfect.
An equally nice feature comes at the very end of the project on Sippin’ (Outro). The track samples Spinnin’ Through The City a track from A2‘s first EP Hennessy Thoughts. This adds an element of closure of this narrative arc, going back round to the beginning but with some new flair.
If there’s one project you listen to from A2, in fact from an artist from the U.K. this is the project you listen to. It’s Britishness isn’t abrasive but is so clearly evident you can’t miss it. Testament to the quality of the project is that I really couldn’t pick just one track as the standout. The reason it is so incredible is likely down to not rushing it. This is a project that took literal years to come out. I’m almost certain this isn’t even the first version of BLUE to be completed in that time. Clearly A2 trusts in his process and we as fans should too, especially after seeing what leaving him this long creates.
She’s like ‘where’s BLUE’ I say ‘wrong timing’, You know I just finished shining
In the weeks leading to the release A2 did a post saying BLUE was the end of a journey, one of self reflection and indecisiveness. The way the project signs out does feel like a bittersweet ending to a chapter. But it’s more sweet than bitter so long as we continue to get gems from him. Undisputedly this is the best project of the year for me. This is A2’s finest work in an extremely well polished package. As a first album this puts great pressure on what’s next to come, and I can’t wait to see what it is.